As soon as Karpos Multimedia announced an annual outdoor music and arts festival called Wanderland, music aficionados started buzzing with excitement. After all, we’d never really had any large-scale music festival in the country before. With the local music scene relying on music productions housed in local bars and concert halls, Wanderland was quite a big jump as it was held on the newly-opened Globe Circuit Ground in Makati. As soon as I entered the expansive venue, I got that pulsating vibe that I assumed came with a music festival setting. It was an extraordinary feeling that everyone in attendance had waited so long for such an event to happen at their home turf. The festival atmosphere was present. Everywhere I looked, I could see people anxiously waiting. Some had already claimed their spots, lying on the green grass in front of the stage. Some roamed around, visiting booth after booth offering freebies and drinks. There were a few misses though – especially on the side of organizers who could have done a better job with dispensing media passes and checking their guest list. But granted that this was their inaugural year, you just have to give them leeway and expect better organizing for the following years.
Many have labeled Wanderland as the local Coachella, arguably the Mecca of all music festival in the world. But did it live up to such great expectations? I don’t know about the Coachella part, but one thing is for sure – everyone who was in attendance are already anticipating what will be in store for next year’s Wanderland.
The festival opened with Taken by Cars – the only band among the local ones who have played in a big music festival when they were invited to the prestigious South by Southwest (SXSW) last year. Displaying a more solid vocal firepower, Sarah Marco and the band set up a great tone for the festival.
Coming from the talented roster of bands from Terno Recordings, Pulso justified the sudden influx of local post-rock bands. Living up to the tag as one of most anticipated bands out there, they delivered a steady vibe that countered the summer heat.
Many have stamped She’s Only Sixteen as the “local Arctic Monkeys” mainly because of the Brit-Pop vibe you get from this young band. Sharing the same fun and dancey sound with the Alex Turner-fronted band, She’s Only Sixteen provided a pleasant surprise to those who heard them for the first time at Wanderland.
Yolanda Moon has been enjoying quite a following which can be attributed to the strength of their live performances. Another Terno Recordings product, Yolanda Moon treated the audience to their delicate sounds with the songs Path and Smalltalk.
The first foreign band to perform was an indie pop duo from Australia – Colour Coding. Their first song Hold Tight refueled the energy after the down tempo sets before them. With simple and catchy hooks, they got the crowd’s attention right away. This two-man team was not lacking in energy as they played one upbeat song after the other. What they lack in band members, they more than make up for with their solid sound. Their take on The Killers’ When We Were Young is a testament to how well they are able to hold up their own despite being the only duo in the festival line up. Those who were familiar with this hit song immediately jumped up and down because this is probably the closest they will ever be to hearing The Killers since the band cancelled their concert here two years ago. Colour Coding ended their set with a song aptly titled Perfect – a song from their EP Proof. Playing songs exclusively from their five-song EP, you get a feeling that sooner or later a solid full-length album can’t be too far along.
Next up was Avalanche City, a folk music band from Auckland, New Zealand. As soon as they started playing, you get the feeling that their sound was the perfect for the mood for that five o’clock afternoon. Opening their set was the track The Streets, a standout from their studio album entitled Our New Life Above the Ground. They followed it with other tracks from the same album such Go, Oh Life, Love Love Love, Snow, Ends in the Ocean, The Silence, You And I, Everybody Knows and Slowly Over Me. Being the only folk band in the line-up actually played to their advantage as Dave Baxter’s soft and fragile vocals were enough to get the crowd clapping and up on their feet. Armed with their banjo, ukulele and violin, the band was made to perform as the sun was setting and the breeze was blowing.
Probably winning the Darling of the Crowd award was Tully on Tully, thanks to their charming vocalist Natalie Foster. Playing their first ever international gig, the band was successful in stamping their identity to the crowd. Influenced by bands such as Grizzly Bear and Local Natives, Tully on Tully sounded like the great combination of folk and pop. The band played right at the perfect moment, just as night settled in and the crowd finally got the full grasp of the event. Foster’s powerful vocals immediately had the crowd enthralled. What is nice about the band is that Foster’s voice had that natural strength to it, one that doesn’t have to rely on reverb or any effects to make it shine. But the band doesn’t rely purely on Foster’s charisma. Overall, the band sounded in control of their instruments and had that ability to sound great during a live performance. A personal favorite was Naked, which sounded like marching song with the masterful drumming and addictive hooks. In a quick chat with Greg Rietwyk, he said how the band was greatly overwhelmed with the reception they received here especially when the crowd was singing along to their songs. A testament to how well-liked the band was? Every time band members would walk around the grounds, people followed hoping to have pictures taken with them. I wouldn’t be surprised if this band made a second trip here.
Up Dharma Down, heavyweights of the local music scene, was the main Filipino band. As expected, the crowd was buzzing with anticipation for UDD’s set which are known be dynamic and powerful. The band played songs exclusively from their latest and well-received album, Capacities. Given the fact that UDD released a brilliant debut album (Fragmented) and equally notable follow-up in Bipolar, one may interpret UDD’s decision to play new songs as their way of standing by their sound. The band opened with Parks, immediately showing the band’s new musical direction. They immediately followed this with Indak, one of the singles from their third album, a song that shows Millare’s songwriting skills. Next up was Luna, probably the closest to the original UDD sound we were introduced to back in 2006. Night Drops, Turn It Well, Hiwaga and Turn It Well rounded up the band’s set. Though the band played a relatively short six-song set, it was a tight showing of how the band deserves all the accolades it is reaping now.
PART TWO talks about main headliners The Temper Trap, Nada Surf, and Neon Trees.